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3D Modeling Software

By Edited Dec 19, 2013 2 4
Student using autodesk software
Credit: http://www.cadalyst.com/

In this wonderful age of technology, 3D modeling software has made a huge impact in the marketplace and has revolutionized how people illustrate concepts and ideas. Having advanced programs such as Google SketchUp or TinkerCAD allows virtually anyone to bring an image from their mind to a precise 3D image on their screen. Many architects, civil and mechanical engineers are using these softwares to bring their ideas to life. These sophisticated software platforms allow engineers to push the limits of their product before they actually become physical. As you can imagine, this saves companies and individuals thousands of dollars before a disaster can take place. It is possible to test the stress factors of a structure by simulating environmental forces, vibrations and other forces that could produce consequences for that particular model. Seeking reliable and simple to use 3D software could be very time consuming and daunting. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be. When searching for software the best ones are Google Sketchup, 123D Suite and TinkerCAD. Each have a remarkable reputation from millions of satisfied users. A brief overview will shed some light on each of these platforms and allow one to make a clear decision.

123D Suite 

Price: FREE

This software was designed with the consumer in mind, it allows users to get started quickly by providing basic shapes and templates that enables individuals to experiment and familiarize themselves with more comprehensive design concepts. Also, there’s a wide array of kits that are available on the website. One of the biggest advantages of using 123D Suite is the online community that is available, this allows the users to communicate amongst other designers to help improve their designs, give feedback, and tips & tricks within the program. A unique feature that 123 has is the ability to take a photograph via iPad or digital camera and upload it to the software in order to replicate a detailed 3D image of the picture. Being a free software, 123D suite provides an extensive program that anyone can pick up and use and with online tutorials, the learning curve can be greatly reduced. It is worth trying and seeing how well it works for you.

TinkerCAD

Price: FREE - $19.00/mo - $99.00/mo - $499.00/mo

Currently the website is providing a free trial however, it is limited time only. Focusing on the paid versions the main difference between each is as follows:

  • $19/mo - 100 designs
  • $99/mo - 1000 designs and 5 team members

  • $499/mo - 2000 designs and 10 team members

Each of these offers provide a 30 day money back guarantee and includes a free trial. One of the biggest advantages that TinkerCAD provides is that it runs through your web browser; no downloads and no lost data. The main idea behind TinkerCAD is to create models for printing which allows users to create an object and print it into physical reality. Even with the basic editor (FREE), users are able to utilize the tools and become familiar to the software. Upgrading to $19/mo permits access to lessons and new features such as 3D mesh importing and scripts. TinkerCAD has been renowned for its ease of use making this one of the best and sophisticated 3D modeling softwares out there. Users can take advantage of video tutorials that are integrated with the interface along with helpful hints. TinkerCAD also provides an online community and continous tech support. While TinkerCAD comes in 4 levels, it is primarily utilized at its entry cost of $19/mo which allows the 3D Mesh importing.

SketchUp Pro 

Price: FREE - $590.00

Perhaps one of the most well known software’s of 3D modeling is SketchUp. Initially, the software will load up with Pro and a default 8 hour trial period, when time expires users will be prompt to purchase; declining will result in restoring to the original version. Google is known for simplicity and SketchUp has it; help options, video tutorials, and support center. Which makes navigation extremely easy, while also keeping the user engaged. This is the ultimate 3D modeling software for beginners because it is easy for non-designers to jump right in and produce incredible models. Similar to the latter, SketchUp is great for designing decks, sheds, homes, or woodworking projects while presenting a beautiful textured finish with dimensional accuracy. One feature in particular that allows SketchUp to stand out from its competitors is the ability to place finished models into Google Earth; viewing the project in real life. Furthermore, after completing models, users can share their creations with other users via the warehouse section, this is also a great place to gain inspiration from other talented designers.

While all of these CADs work beautifully, each has their own personalities and perhaps there is no real winner however, the winner is the one that the user finds themselves enjoying the most. It is encouraged that if you are looking for a reliable, easy to use 3D modeling software it is virtually impossible to go wrong with any of the products mentioned. To truly know which of these is best, download each and experiment to find out which one is the most comfortable to you. Get out there and start designing!

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Comments

Jan 23, 2014 10:52am
pedropietro
"When searching for software the best ones are Google Sketchup, 123D Suite and TinkerCAD"

wait...what? These three programs are the unequivocal best? I would be interested to hear what the author uses these programs for, if professionally or as a hobby. There are numerous programs that are many times more powerful than the (only three) mentioned in this article, including 3DSMax, Rhino, Maya, Wildfire Pro E, or Blender.

Perhaps a better title would be "Best Free 3D Modeling Software for Beginners", in which case it would be a pretty interesting look at free software for beginning modelers.
Jan 24, 2014 5:50am
CreativeDesign
RhinoCEROS 3D is the best bang for the buck, no matter your level of expertise, as long as you don't require a parametric package. Marine industry uses it heavily.

The best parametric-based CAD package has to be SolidWorks by Dassault Systemes. You get a lot for the money, schools teach it, and industry uses it.

Catia (also by Dassault Systemes), will set you back A LOT of money, but is very powerful, especially when you add task specific modules to it. It can do it all, depending on how much money you have thrown at it.
Mar 23, 2014 1:39pm
EradifyerAO
I have experience with Maya, Blender, and a third I have forgotten. As far as bang for your buck goes, I believe Blender goes a long way; and while the learning curve may be high, it's amazingly customizable!
Jan 15, 2015 7:22pm
Browna86
An interesting article that introduced some new additions to my 3D software list. Curious to hear if anyone has or have any experience working with Daz 3D. 3D software is still new to me and I've done some experimenting with Daz but find these to be interesting contenders to explore.
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